Saturday, July 14, 2012


There was once a farmer who decided he would save money, so instead of buying the full sack of seed corn, he bought only 2/3 of the amount he had purchased the year before. After sowing the seeds on his field, he eventually harvested the crop. To his great surprise, the crop had only yielded 2/3 of the bounty of the season before.

The farmer is much like some of our elected leaders who will express shock, surprise and dismay at the recent reports that 9th grade test results show that only 34% of our statewide 9th graders can demonstrate proficiency in writing. Even worse, only 41% of our 9th graders are proficient in English. Why should we be surprised? Our state legislature, under statewide leadership, has caused layoffs of over 15,000 teachers in the state, mandated larger classes, and ended many programs that were calculated to enhance learning.

Classroom size does, in fact, make a difference. [Read summary discussions of class size research here and here.] Despite a bogus study or two touted by Mitt Romney, the multitude of other experts have demonstrated time and time again, by monitored results, that class size of 15:1 in the lower 3 grades can produce spectacular results. 

Eliminating over 15,000 teaching spots is not calculated to lure the best and brightest to the teaching profession, and comes at a time when teachers are so critically needed for America to compete in the worldwide arena.

The first retort of conservatives to information such as enumerated above is that, You cant throw money at education and fix it.  I certainly agree. The flip side of that coin, however, is you cant fix and create a wonderful system of education without spending an adequate amount money.

The State of Texas could better spend its time in the Legislature and the State Board of Education by concentrating on evaluation of the efficiency of school districtsperhaps to determine whether or not they are top heavy in administration with overblown and overpaid superintendents and assistant superintendents and their fellow travelers. An audit of charter schools funded by tax money should inquire intently on whether or not taxpayers are getting their moneys worth in improved education in these facilities, or whether they are simply gold mines for those who create these private entities.

Far-right wingers who express such great concern for having English only in the State of Texas would be far better off, as would the State, if they were more concerned about whether or not their own children and the children of Texas parents are proficient in our predominant languageEnglish. 

While I suspect the electronic age of texting and twittering is somewhat responsible for our young Texans lagging in communication skills in writing and using English, it still needs to be addressed through our school system. 

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